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Where has the summer gone, it has not been a particularly wet summer but it has also not been very sunny.


However, I do hope you have all enjoyed your tennis, whether it has been playing socially or participating in the local, county or national leagues.

Some of us will be disappointed with our results and others will be over the moon.


As Jimmy Connors once commented, the next best think after playing tennis and winning, is playing tennis and losing. We have to remember at the end of the day – It is just a game!


Some of you will continue to play competitive tennis throughout the winter months; tennis has become an all year round sport. I continue to coach students right the way through the winter – it is an ideal time to reflect on what you need to do to improve your shots, you technique and your tactics and finally your fitness. Remember, it is very easy to become unfit and takes about 6 weeks to recover from a weeks lay off.


An area that always concerns me with any sports person is that of fitness – stamina and strength.  If you really want to succeed in the modern world of sport, you really have to concentrate on all aspects of fitness. The person who is fittest stands a much better chance of coming out on top.


I have for a number of years observed that if we want to produce a number of players of world class standard, then we must have a lot more clay courts in the U.K.


On clay the players have longer rallies, it is not easy to win points and it is necessary to build a point, it is not possible to just go all out for winners.


I have played a lot on clay courts (hartrue) in the states, whilst it is a different game to that played on hardcourts, it certainly makes you more patient and the need to concentrate for longer and keep your focus.


Now we have a new talent appear in the form of Andrew Murray and he proves the point having trained in Spain on clay courts. The following is an extract from Ace magazine dwelling on A.M. “Being able to train all year round on clay is a huge advantage. It’s the one surface that finds all your weaknesses and prepares both your mind and physique for pro tennis.”


Enjoy the coming months of tennis – even when it is cold – wet and windy !!!


Remember – it is the same for your opponent.



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In This Issue

As a thank you for subscribing to the monthly

newsletter, there is a FREE BONUS of 100 drills.

See below.

Item 1/.       Tip of the month

Item 2/.       Drill of the month

Item 3/.       Fun Game of the month

Item 4/.       Play Better Doubles

There are 100 drills of various types that will help you
with your tennis, some are for more than two players,
but you can adapt these to suit your needs.
Where a pro is mentioned, substitute 'your partner'
Click on the following link to go to the download site.

Click here for the drills.

We now offer the leading tennis, sports and
fitness books from the leading sources.
These can be bought via the tennisatthenet website.
We offer these at the same prices that you would
buy direct.
For any of our International subscribers -
if you are unable to purchase these via the suppliers
we would be happy to obtain them and send
adding on the postage costs.

Want a great tennis holiday,
play tennis until you drop!
See details on the website.






Every club wants to be more successful and the question is ‘What is more success?’


My new website will help and advise on improving your club, with lots of ideas to put into practice. Your committee and members may need a change of mind, but progress often entails radical thinking.


The website can be accessed via the website: http://www.tennisatthenet.com

or direct via the following link:     http://hoskinsjohn.bizland.com/successfulclub

Tip of the Month





There are two tips for you this month.





It is worth having two different serves in your armoury as this will keep your opponent of balance and win you a few easy points.


Most players have what is generally termed a flat serve, although there is no such thing as a completely flat serve; generally the ball needs to be hit up and the momentum will bring the ball down once it has passed over the net.


The two alternative serves are the ‘Topspin Serve’ and the ‘Slice Serve’.


I do not teach the topspin serve until my students have mastered both the flat and the slice serve. In fact I now teach beginners the slice serve first as I have found this actually helps them when moving in to the flat serve, as it helps to eliminate the frying pan serve.


Hold your racuet with a continental (chopper) grip. Throw the ball up a little further to the right (2 o’clock on the clock face) (or to your left if you’re a left-hander) then hit the outside edge with a glancing blow that causes the ball to spin forward and clockwise. It is similar to hitting the ball from 9 o’clock round to 3 o’clock, but imagining the clock face is semi-diagonal to you. Practice pulling your opponent out wide in the deuce court (ad court for left-handed servers) to open up the court for the next ball.


As a practice and to get better at hitting sharp angles, start near the service line and gradually move back to the baseline.


As your partner  is practicing the slice serve, you can work on your returning the wide serve.




A play which I like to do in a doubles match is to do a drop shot, across court so that it just lands in the tramlines, no more than 2 feet from the net, but you must be ready for the opponents return – especially if they are fast around the court.


Your partner will be on their side of the court ( see following illustration) and therefore they have few options open to them. The favourite with good players is a return again cross court very close to the net. You may be ready to cut this off, but tennis is a game of cunning and bluff; your opponent may take the risk that this is what you will do and thus put the ball behind you as you run to that side.


I always counteract this possibility and go to the position shown in the illustration, and you will get no end of winners by cutting off the shot.




Drill of the month.


(Extracted from my drillbook - (Over 250 games & Drills)

please see the diagram in the attachment.





The coach and players each have 4 or 5 balls.


Coach starts and rapid feeds the balls to the volleyer, as soon as finished the next player does the same, until all balls expended.


Then players switch round until all have had a go.






Fun Game   -    BOMBS & BULLETS.


Players can move anywhere within the two service boxes.


Coach has basket of transition balls at the back of the court. He lobs some balls in to the air (The Bombs) and hits other balls at their feet (The Bullets).


Anyone hit is out.  Those left in at end of basket win.

Take care of safety as a number of the balls will bounce off the net and the players could fall over them, make sure they are removed as the game goes along.


Playing Successful Doubles.


Part Seven of this monthly feature.





If it is your ambition to pay a good game of doubles, then it is absolutely essential that you learn to play (together with your partner) at the net. At whatever level of tennis you play, without doubt, you will win more points and therefore more games, with you and your partner in an attacking net position.


Being at the net puts pressure on your opponents to produce effective shots, it enables you to hit more winners, using angles, drop shots and good attacking volleys and your opponents have smaller targets if they wish to pass you.


If you don’t follow your serve into the net, then you must wait for the ideal opportunity to approach the net, you need to be patient as going to the net on the wrong ball, might well lose you the point.


You need to learn which of your shots gives you the chance to move forward and depending on how quick you are, how far back you can think about moving to the net. You need to be able to keep the opponent back by hitting good deep balls, so that their return drops shot, and this is the ideal ball on which to approach. The simple act of moving forward will put your opponents under added pressure.


You should set up a drill where any ball that falls short of a particular line, then you must start your approach to the net. Then make this a little more challenging by moving the line closer to the baseline, test your limitations.


The following drill will help you to work in the area where you are most likely to receive a ball, when approaching the net. You must be prepared for an approach volley, a difficult half-volley etc., and need to put in plenty of practice in this area.


Mark off with lines an area half way between the service and base lines and about three feet in front of the service line. This area is the transition zone.


Have your partner feed balls cross court from the baseline, these should be a complete range of shots from high volleys and lobs, low drives and dipping balls etc. You should practice hitting balls from various parts of the transition zone and aim for a target area deep in the crosscourt corner.

The next stage is to practice taking these balls whilst moving into the zone and finally by serving and following in.




This is another advanced playing situation and today we are looking at isolating a player from the net position.


When attacking the net and you volley the ball, whoever the volley goes to at the baseline, you isolate that player by only attacking their half of the court. In other words you only volley the ball to their half  and this puts them under extra pressure, you have in essence eliminated their partner from the game and set you and your partner up to win the point. This is now a two on one situation.


Take advantage of the situation created, make certain the volleys are good and either penetrating or with good angles and when the opportunity arises, put the ball away.



One of the basic rules for winning in doubles play is to avoid hitting the ball to the player at the net. Because they are usually the player in the best position to hit a winner, Correct ?


This is of course true for the majority of the time, but not always; there are other considerations to be made.


Also, do not presume that your opponent’s volleying skills are good until you have testes them out. They may be an average volleyer and feel that they ought to be at the net, so that is where they park themselves. You should hit a few good returns at the net player, early in the game, as this will have an affect on their play.


The way to test out your opponent at the net is to take one or two shots early in the match, when you are returning the serve. Hit one shot down the line, one over their head (a lob) and one quite hard, directly at them; this will give you and your partner a fairly good assessment of their volleying and overhead skills.


Before doing this, it is a good idea to tell your partner your intentions, this will enable them to be ready for the opponents possible reply.


Even if your opponent has good volleying skills, by hitting a few balls as suggested, will keep them honest and they will not be so ready to poach your crosscourt returns. They will realise that you are adept at down the line returns.


There is another time that you should hit the ball the net players way. We have a saying deep to deep and close to close; the first scenario is logical in that if you are at the baseline playing a ball and your opponent is also on the baseline, then you keep the ball going back to the opponent on the baseline, and hit at this stage to the net player could be quickly dispatched.


However, if the ball comes to you at the net, from the baseline player, or from the net player, you do not hit the ball back to the baseliner, this gives them another opportunity to keep in the rally. The ball should be hit towards the opposing net player and there are three places to put the ball.


1/.        Down the missle at an angle, between the net and baseline players – but obviously not so that the baseliner can reach it.


2/.        At the feet of the net player – this will mean their having to lift the ball up and present an easy put away volley.


3/.        An acute angle return in front of them, but this needs to be good so that they are unable to get in a return.


If the net player is a good volleyer, you may then get into a volley rally situation, and must be ready to kill the loose ball.


The final option open to you, if you have good hands, is a good soft drop shot over the net on your own side, this is a tough shot and it must be a winner, but remember it will be over the highest part of the net.



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Visit the website for details.

Until next month,


John Hoskins – Coach.



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